Istanbul: ten dead in suspected Islamic State attack
Nine Germans among those killed by suicide bomber in tourist area of Sultanahmet
At least ten people, including nine German nationals, have been killed and 15 injured after a suspected Islamic State suicide bomber attacked central Istanbul.
The blast struck the tourist area of Sultanahmet near the historic Blue Mosque in Turkey's most populous city this morning. At least two of the injured are in a critical condition.
Eyewitnesses described how bodies were scattered across the square. "It was difficult to say who was alive or dead," said one.
A German tourist told AFP how she managed to escape the attack with her daughter. "We went into a nearby building and stayed there for half an hour. It was really scary," she said.
Many of those injured are also believed to be German tourists and Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed "serious concern" about the casualties.
"Today Istanbul was hit. Paris has been hit, Tunisia has been hit, Ankara has been hit before," she said. "International terrorism is once again showing its cruel and inhuman face today."
There was a "high probability" the bombing was orchestrated by Islamic State due to the targeting of foreign tourists, said senior security officials.
Addressing the nation shortly after the bombing, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack had been carried out by a Syrian suicide bomber.
Turkey had become a "top target for all terrorist groups in the region", he added, vowing to continue "fighting against all of them equally".
The country's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus later said the suspect was not on a militant watchlist and was thought to have recently crossed into Turkey from Syria, the BBC reports.
The bombing comes just months after Turkey suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in its history, when a suspected IS militant killed more than 100 people at a peace march in the capital.